Stacy Brown-Philpot, is the chief executive officer of TaskRabbit, the online and mobile marketplace that matches freelance labor with local demand to help consumers access immediate assistance for everyday tasks. Since its founding in 2008, TaskRabbit has grown to include 60,000 Taskers who assist with everything from cleaning and moving to handyman work and delivery.
Stacy discussed a wide range of issues, including the secret to hiring great people, the future of work, the gig economy, the role of data analytics at TaskRabbit, how technology companies can help with hurricane relief, her best business advice, and a message to her 20-year-old self.
Zack Friedman: You were raised by a single mom in Detroit, and you have said that she sacrificed a lot to care for you and your brother. If TaskRabbit existed then, how would TaskRabbit have helped your family?
Stacy Brown-Philpot: My mother would have been able to earn a more meaningful income and had the flexibility to do things like pick us up from school and help us with our homework.
At TaskRabbit, we pay five times the federal minimum wage based upon an average hourly rate of $35. That is several times more than she made on an hourly basis. By using TaskRabbit, she would have been able to free up her time to spend with us.
Zack Friedman: Before becoming TaskRabbit’s CEO in 2016, you served as COO for three years. How has your day-to-day role changed now that you are CEO?
Stacy Brown-Philpot: I used to spend my time more on process than strategy.
Now, I prioritize my time around strategy, people and process.
- Do we have the right strategy?
- Do we have the right people to execute on the strategy?
- Are the processes we run internally the ones that will allow us to execute well and win?
My job is also now more external than internal, where I engage more with partners, users and press.
Zack Friedman: Under your leadership, TaskRabbit has been expanding its footprint in cities across America. Tell us more about this initiative, and your future plans for growth.
Stacy Brown-Philpot: TaskRabbit’s vision is to revolutionize every day work.
TaskRabbit is not just a coastal business. We’re not just in San Francisco and New York. We’re in places like Nashville, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Kansas City. This is a service that’s really for all Americans. Our end goal is for TaskRabbit to be for everybody and everywhere and every device.
We’re now in 40 cities, including London, and so we’re on our way to becoming a global business. We’ve added 21 new cities thus far this year. We’re also going to be launching some new partnerships that are coming in the next couple of months.
When we talk about TaskRabbit at every store, you should be able to request a TaskRabbit service no matter where you are. If you’re in a store, if you’re online and you’re buying something and you don’t want to put it together yourself, whether it’s IKEA furniture or anything else, then TaskRabbit should be available to you.
Above all else, we are really focused on building a business for the long term, and really sustaining our growth. So if you think about the sharing economy, it wasn’t even a thing eight years ago. And then four years ago, they were like maybe people might get in a car with a stranger. And so we’re charting a course in a new industry.
But at the same time, we want to build something that lasts for the long term. So we’ve focused on the sustainable, how we grow, how we acquire customers and how we hire employees.
Q: As you expand your footprint, how is TaskRabbit helping to spearhead job creation in communities?
Stacy Brown-Philpot: Most of our Taskers are part time anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week. There are some Taskers who are full-time, meaning they want to work 30 or 40 hours a week. And that is their primary or only source of income.
But a lot of people have full time jobs somewhere else, and it’s just not enough to make ends meet. There’s one Tasker who is a great handyman and a nurse. He only gets three hours a day, three days a week to work.
And then the other three days he tasks on TaskRabbit because the income doesn’t afford him the cost of living in the Bay Area, for example.
Zack Friedman: Through its platform, TaskRabbit connects two important constituencies: customers who need assistance with everyday tasks and the labor force that can provide those services. As you look through the lens of the gig economy, what is the future of work, and what role is TaskRabbit playing to help transform the way that we work?
Stacy Brown-Philpot: We are unique because we’ve really invested in building a two-sided marketplace.
The dynamic that that yields is a high quality supply of Taskers who are available to work for clients on the demand side who are interested in those services. And it has created this balance that has resulted in a high quality experience.
We have about 30,000 people who show up at our site every month who want to task on TaskRabbit. The next step is machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence). And in the future, your filter in your refrigerator will run out and need to be changed, and you’ll automatically get a Tasker to come and change it for you. As a result, this has played a big role in how we have thought about growing our data science team.